G73 2016-17: OILERS AT DUCKS

by Lowetide

There are a few things about this spring that are going to be different around here. Draft coverage is going to be sporadic and limited. Game day threads will increase by at least four, and we are going to have to discuss the possible summer transactions while other things are going on. So, even as the race for the Pacific Division crown is back on, we will spend a few minutes today looking ahead to summer.

COMING INTO LOS ANGELES, YEAR OVER YEAR

  • Oilers in October 2015: 4-8-0, goal differential -7
  • Oilers in October 2016: 7-2-0, goal differential +10
  • Oilers in November 2015: 4-7-2, goal differential -6
  • Oilers in November 2016: 5-8-2 goal differential -3
  • Oilers in December 2015: 7-6-1, goal differential -9
  • Oilers in December 2016: 7-2-5, goal differential +3
  • Oilers in January 2016: 4-5-2, goal differential -5
  • Oilers in January 2017: 9-4-1, goal differential +8
  • Oilers in February 2016: 3-8-2, goal differential -18
  • Oilers in February 2017: 6-6-0, goal differential -2
  • Oilers in March 2016: 8-8-0, goal differential +5
  • Oilers in March 2017: 5-2-1, goal differential +8
  • Oilers after 72, 2015-16: 27-38-7, goal differential -42
  • Oilers after 72, 2016-17: 39-24-9, goal differential +24
Tonight the Oilers could hit 40 wins for the first time since 2007-08, and this time without Sam Gagner. G73 was a win against the St. Louis Blues (6-4) and (including this game) the Oilers would drive the bus over the cliff with a 4-5-1 to finish 31-43-8. If Edmonton ran the same record this year, it would land them 43-29-10, 96 points at the buzzer.

 WHAT TO EXPECT FROM MARCH

  • At home to: Detroit, NY Islanders, Pittsburgh, Montreal (Expected: 2-2-0) (Actual 1-2-1)
  • At home to: Dallas, Boston, Vancouver, Los Angeles (Expected: 3-1-0) (Actual 4-0-0)
  • On the road to: Anaheim, Colorado (Expected: 1-1-0) (Actual: 0-0-0)
  • At home to: Colorado, Los Angeles, San Jose (Expected 1-1-1) (Actual: 0-0-0)
  • Overall expected result: 7-5-1, 15 points in 13 games
  • Current results: 5-2-1, 11 points in 8 games

The club is one point ahead of our projection, and it looks like November will be the only poor month of the season. Due to the whole world going crazy, the Oilers have a chance at finishing first in the Pacific Division, making this a bigger game. More in a minute.

There are a bunch of questions that are rolling around in my mind, a few you have passed along and several I have read about pertaining to the overall health and future of the team.

  1. Will Jesse Puljujarvi get the call? There isn’t a need currently, so barring an injury or a string of bad games, I don’t see it. Edmonton can send down Jujhar Khaira, but who do they move out of the lineup to get JP there? The three men rotating (Caggiula, Hendricks, Slepyshev) around two spots on the 4line seem to be more established with this team. Maybe a quick recall before heading back down, but there’s no hockey reason (imo) to call him up.
  2. How far is the gap between the Oilers with and without McDavid at 5×5? It isn’t close. Edmonton is under 50 percent in Corsi for 5×5 overall now, after a long period of heading in the wrong direction. When McDavid is on the ice at 5×5, the club grooves at 52.8 percent. Without him? Shy of 48 percent.
  3. Are you alarmed by that gap? No, I think it was predictable. We didn’t discuss it much until now because the overall was 50 or better, but we did discuss the issue before the season. Edmonton lacks balance, they have issues and we can hope for better results but the club have one man who can push the river. Among centers, RNH (48.9), David Desharnais  (47.2) and Mark Letestu (45.5) are all below 50 percent. Considering the quality of opponent (and time on ice against them), I will suggest Nuge’s number is solid (although the offense is shy). After that? Oilers are not a balanced them. If I had claimed they were, and these results arrived 70 games into the season? Sure. But we weren’t kidding ourselves about balance and depth for this team.
  4. Will we see major moves this summer? Yes. I think Edmonton will add a shooter on RW, a veteran RHD (it could range in terms of style, much depends on PC’s view of Klefbom/Benning and their offense), a backup goalie and some extra draft picks.
  5. Name the additions. Impossible. Names who make sense include T.J. Oshie, Sam Gagner, Tyson Barrie, Justin Faulk, Travis Hamonic, Anders Nilsson. I doubt Oshie is coming here, although the McDavid kavorka may change that for Oshie and others.

PETER CHIARELLI’S SUMMER LIST (TAKE ONE)

  1. Sign Connor McDavid.
  2. Sign Leon Draisaitl.
  3. Sign Zack Kassian.
  4. Find a righty shooter for McDavid’s line and the power play.
  5. Find a veteran RHD to play second pair with Andrej Sekera.
  6. Find a backup goalie.
  7. Find NHL and minor  league answers for the talent shortage at forward. Kyle Dutra is a recent minor league example.
  8. Sign a bunch of college free-agent forwards.
  9. Add a second-round selection.

These are early days and this list is going to change, but everything on this list makes sense to me. A volume shooter for the 97 line, a veteran RHD to replace Russell (who I am guessing will receive substantial offers that leave EDM out in the cold), a backup and then push for forward prospects.

 PROJECTED 2017-18 LINEUP

  • Maroon-McDavid-Radim Vrbata
  • Lucic-Draisaitl-Eberle
  • Pouliot-Nuge-Puljujarvi
  • Slepyshev-Letestu-Kassian
  • Caggiula-Pitlick
  • Klefbom-Larsson
  • Sekera-Michael Stone
  • Nurse-Benning
  • Griffin Reinhart
  • Talbot (Anders Nilsson)

The other option is dealing Nuge for Justin Faulk or Travis Hamonic, and then signing a $4M checking center. That makes a lot of sense, too. It might become necessary depending on contracts for Leon and Kassian.

STANDINGS

It’s a big old goofy world, folks. How on earth did we get here? Oilers win tonight and they are within two points of the Sharks! Connor McDavid, you are a shooting star.

LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE

A morning with shifting sands has me working on a few guests as we speak. My goal is to shoot out to Anaheim and then track to Toronto for some Jays talk. F1 and other subjects out in the ether, I can say we have Darcy McLeod at 10:20 to talk Oil and Steve Kournianos from The Draft Analyst at 11:25 to talk about college free agents and spiking draft eligibles. 10 this morning, TSN1260. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide twitter.

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Bank Shot

Bruce Wayne
The tacit assumption behind these posts is that teams can intentionally get more scoring chances than other teams and that this effort shows up in increased scoring chances and better PDO, but doesn’t show up in more shots.

The problem with this line of thinking is that it assumes all shots are equal when that doesn’t appear to be the case.

You have a team like the Los Angeles Kings who have been top two in corsi every season for the past five season.

They have never been in the top half of the league in shooting percentage in this time.

This is a systemic approach that prefers shot volume over shot quality.

Darryl Sutter clearly sets up his system to gain maximum amounts of shots, but judging by the shooting percentage of his teams they aren’t all high calibre.

Looks at Alain Vigneault’s teams. The Rangers have been top 3 in shooting percentage the last 3 years since he took over. They were 28th in his first season as coach.

Tracking back to Vancouver. The Canucks were 17th in Alain’s second season with the team.
3rd in 09, 2nd in 10, 8th in 11, 9th in 12, 14th in the year he was fired.

Now Alain Vigneault’s team’s finish top ten or better in shooting percentage 75% of the time over a ten year span. Top 3 in league shooting percentage 50% of the time.

Is he the luckiest coach of all time?

I think he coaches a system that prefers shot quality over shot quantity that allows his teams to win without being the best at corsi.

vishcosity

Woodguy v2.0,

“I find a combo metric of SV%, CF% and a hair of SH% works best.”

Woah. Curious where this one is going. Care to share the relative weightings?

If you’d be so kind to share in this thread, I’ll be back to check for sure.

SayItAin'tSo, Gretz, SayItAin'tSo!

Scungilli,

But LB came in and made 16 stops including a barrage on a 4v3 PP a few minutes after he took the net.

He didn’t let in a goal and gave the team a chance and if they could have pulled the trigger on one of the earlier PPs maybe they would have tied it?

But more importantly what upgrade? Who is going to shake loose in that upper echelon of goalies ahead of Talbot that can be signed at a similar price point? Or who is knocking on that door but isn’t quite yet established that could be had at that price point?

Oiler fans seem to have this passionate desire to assume that the grass is always greener on the other side. There is always a better option out there who would seamlessly fit in all the metrics and take the team to the promise land. The mythical “whale” if you will.

One would have figured that a goalie who puts up something resembling a Vezina caliber season would be spared. Ditto for a team that has finished in the bottom 3 for a damn decade all of a sudden challenging for a division title.

But alas we covet what we do not have and I suppose I just need to accept it.

Hmm I notice this morning that Dr. Drai is knocking on the top ten for scoring, alas he isn’t a river pusher though so I guess his points are less important.

PhrankLee

We have the horses. We have the arrows.

What we need is a Mongol master to teach us how to fire arrows accurately while galloping on horseback.

Watching Marco Polo again. What a budget! ha ha.

Scungilli Slushy

SayItAin’tSo, Gretz, SayItAin’tSo!:
Scungilli,

Man all of Lundqvist, Quick, Jones, Crawford, Holtby, Dubnyk and Bobo have had a few rough games. Even the saintly net minder in Habs land has admittedly had a rough season.

Lets step back from the ledge and not anoint the Ducks the second coming.

The Oilers started and ended the game perfectly fine but lost the script in the middle for a while when Talbot wasn’t his usual self.

I really wouldn’t read any more into than that.

This is true, I find Talbot, who is a good goalie, has the issue of bad games in the midst of a run of good games.

Price had a slump, and it’s done. That’s the difference. So a really good back up and putting him in when Talbot struggles would work. Putting him in at the first sign of struggling at this time of year.

My point is more let’s not anoint Talbot. He’s the best we’ve had in ages, but if an upgrade comes take it and trade Talbot for a centre or defencemen or keep both if the cap allows. We’ll see how he does in the playoffs.

Kmart99

Sounds like the lack of scoring depth on this team is convincing people the Oilers can’t win a playoff series.

I disagree.

For one, don’t underestimate Connor. He’s proven all season that he can carry the team to victory against the Pacific division rivals.

Two, the scoring depth is actually sort of average. Not as horrible as it appears. Lucic 17g, Letestu 15g, RNH 15g, Eberle 14g, Klefbom 12g. Is that really horrible depth scoring? We had higher expectations for Nuge Ebs and Lucic, but that doesn’t make the depth scoring worse than it is.

Although, who knows how many of those secondary goals were actually assisted by Connor.

Cassandra

Georges: I was going to go back 5 years like you told me. I started with last year.

Top teams on 5v5 SCF% 2015-16

1. PIT
2. SJ

Had to stop there. Checked the numbers for this year.

Top teams on 5v5 SCF% 2016-17

1. MIN
2. PIT

If I remember correctly, you had a lot of praise for the PIT style of play. You wanted the Oilers to be more like them. Well, apparently, here’s how Sullivan likes his team to play.

I think the reason they play this way is that they’ve figured out that “not all shots are equal.” PIT focuses on creating and taking away the best shots. They did hire that young Carnegie Mellon stats prof who co-founded war-on-ice. He must be good for something.

The tacit assumption behind these posts is that teams can intentionally get more scoring chances than other teams and that this effort shows up in increased scoring chances and better PDO, but doesn’t show up in more shots.

I find this to be a dubious assumption. Teams have always tried to get better scoring chances. There is nothing new in that. And if there were tactics that lead to better scoring chances then a) you don’t statistics to tell you that is a good idea, b) other teams would notice and copy, c) how would these tactics that are so good not also result in more shots.

So we are back where we always were.

1) Shots and scoring chances track to a very large degree.
2) Measuring scoring chances is fraught (we’ve been over this before).
3) Therefore using shots is better than scoring chances.
4) Dangerous Fenwick is probably best of all.

Cassandra

Woodguy v2.0: I thought you wanted to project standings points?

The best teams are the best teams by many metrics.

It’s getting the projections correct in the mushy middle that’s the tough part.

SCF% is pretty variable there.

More variable than CF%.

I find a combo metric of SV%, CF% and a hair of SH% works best.

It works best because the shooting metrics and the shot metrics are measuring independent things.

That’s the danger with correlations, that it is high doesn’t mean anything in itself. For instance the correlation between GF% and GF% is 1. But that doesn’t tell you anything.

That said, in principle scoring chances should work. The problem here is measurement. What is the correlation between Dangerous Fenwick and goals? I would imagine it is higher than straight Fenwick.

PhrankLee

#1 Problem was coverage last night. Where the hell did it all go?

No panic. There was some pride on the line. But not enough to worry about the loss.

Hope 97 doesn’t have cracked ribs. That was a nasty crosscheck.

russ99

Other than the first goal, Talbot was ok, but he can’t do it all himself, really poor defensive effort. Broissoit got let down a number of times too, but he was stellar. I’d start him tonight, he deserves it.

They’ll learn from the letdown after the late goal in the first.

Also this game was proof that we can’t rely only on the rush, the cycle was non-existent tonight, Ducks beat us to pucks and outworked our forwards and got it out, and other than McDavid’s usual stellar play our other forwards didn’t really trouble their goalie.

This becomes more vital the later we go into the season and postseason.

SayItAin'tSo, Gretz, SayItAin'tSo!

Scungilli,

Man all of Lundqvist, Quick, Jones, Crawford, Holtby, Dubnyk and Bobo have had a few rough games. Even the saintly net minder in Habs land has admittedly had a rough season.

Lets step back from the ledge and not anoint the Ducks the second coming.

The Oilers started and ended the game perfectly fine but lost the script in the middle for a while when Talbot wasn’t his usual self.

I really wouldn’t read any more into than that.

Woodguy v2.0

Georges: I was going to go back 5 years like you told me. I started with last year.

Top teams on 5v5 SCF% 2015-16

1. PIT
2. SJ

Had to stop there. Checked the numbers for this year.

Top teams on 5v5 SCF% 2016-17

1. MIN
2. PIT

If I remember correctly, you had a lot of praise for the PIT style of play. You wanted the Oilers to be more like them. Well, apparently, here’s how Sullivan likes his team to play.

I think the reason they play this way is that they’ve figured out that “not all shots are equal.” PIT focuses on creating and taking away the best shots. They did hire that young Carnegie Mellon stats prof who co-founded war-on-ice. He must be good for something.

I thought you wanted to project standings points?

The best teams are the best teams by many metrics.

It’s getting the projections correct in the mushy middle that’s the tough part.

SCF% is pretty variable there.

More variable than CF%.

I find a combo metric of SV%, CF% and a hair of SH% works best.

spoiler

I don’t know if that Ducks team can beat us in a 7 game series.

I mean anything can happen and we’re young and can easily shoot ourselves in the foot too. I mean A Game vs A Game, I think we can take them.

We pretty much got their A Game tonight, they didn’t get ours after the 1st and they still needed two whiffs by our netminder–in an uncharacteristic performance–to beat us.

I was sad to see the team get so deflated after the 4th goal though. No flow from the penalties. ( Hell we took one like 35 second into the game) They have to learn to deal with that.

You can see McDavid’s force of will already at this tender age. Does anyone anywhere in hockey doubt he should’ve got the captaincy any more? This will is as important as his skill for their success. The kid has got it.

Broissoit will start tomorrow. I’d bet that was the plan all along and I don’t see why tonight should change it. I don’t agree with posters above who think he sucked because he’s worn out and overplayed. He just had back-to-back shutouts for Gord’s sake. But there’s no reason not to take advantage of a natural break. Ways to go yet.

Lucic’s name wasn’t mentioned once I think in the game comments. That’s unusual for a top 9 forward.

These idiots, and by idiots I mean young men, better not take Colorado lightly tomorrow with the rook in net.

hoser313

Scungilli,

I still think Talbot is having an outstanding season.

But they’ve overplayed him and it finally bit them.

They should have given him the game off against the Canucks.

I hope they give him the game off against the Avs.

JD_Wry

BONE207: I remember Coke being the real thing

Yeah, but Fuhr eventually got caught.

Crazy Pedestrian

On another note, Cags and Sleppy were practically invisible tonight… now because reasons, TMac will probably sub one or both in for Hendricks and/or Pak.

I’d keep Sleppy in because he is (usually) more dangerous for the opposition, but maybe time to sub Khaira in for Cags. See how a line of Khaira-Letestu-Sleppy can do…

Ice Sage

Bah – all this teeth-gnashing about a 1 goal loss when our goalie had an unusually shaky night and theirs was solid. Credit to the Ducks for pushing their advantage. The game wasn’t called tightly and the Oilers couldn’t adapt especially as they were playing catch-up.
Not long ago, the Oilers fed Ana their lunch in this building, so they’ll be OK!

Pescador

Scungilli:
Im happy with the season but some weaknesses were exposed. The slow players and rookies were out of their depth. Russell did not play well and had trouble if challenged.

Talbot has been the second hero but unlike top flight goalies who may slump, Cam has a weak game regularly. He’s hot or cold.

There’s only one who can’t be improved on.

I disagree with this vehemently, Talbot has weak game Rarely. What season have you been watching?

Pescador

Lowetide,

Yep, where have I heard that before?
it’s wierd though when the team is humming it looks like it’s there.
We’ll call it inconsistent depth

GMB3

I’m not a real big Kris Russell guy myself. His inability to move the puck whatsoever gets exposed by hard forechecking teams. I also saw a lot more rimming the puck to a redline tip in than I’ve seen last little while

Admiral Ackbar

Crazy Pedestrian,

Was thinking the same thing. Grubs was VERY out of place tonight. The Ducks are a strong, disciplined team. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them in the Semis.

Benning would have made many wiser decisions. Play your best players against skill-teams.

GMB3

That 6-3 was not good. No bueno. Need to get a bit more of a net front presence

Scungilli Slushy

Im happy with the season but some weaknesses were exposed. The slow players and rookies were out of their depth. Russell did not play well and had trouble if challenged.

Talbot has been the second hero but unlike top flight goalies who may slump, Cam has a weak game regularly. He’s hot or cold.

There’s only one who can’t be improved on.

Crazy Pedestrian

SayItAin’tSo, Gretz, SayItAin’tSo!:
Pescador,

Shitty stretch for about 12 minutes of the 2nd, a bunch of penalties and the flood gates open.

Talbot had a rough game after posting back to back shutouts.

Sometimes these games happen. Watch the tape, note the misreads, Gryba will be out for Benning and there’s a chance to get right back In the right direction in 20 hours.

No need to panic

Me thinks TMac should have had the foresight to play Benning in tonight’s game going for a speed game instead of trying to outmuscle the ducks… Ducks a much faster and more polished team than the Kings or bruins… Hopefully he figures it out quick cause the sharks and ducks (again) are right around the corner…

Admiral Ackbar

The 2010 Flyers that lost to Chi in the final, the same team that came back from 3-0 against Bos in the second round – they had a tonne of comebacks that year. Their go-to play? Bull rush the front of the net. They’d crash the net hard, prevent clearance and eventually knock it in. Against a smaller, mobile defence of the Ducks, send Maroon and Lucic to the paint and bomb it in there!!! 6-3 and how man chances? Unacceptable.

BONE207

Lowetide: Balance and depth. It’s the real thing.

I remember Coke being the real thing

Crazy Pedestrian

So who do the Oilers play in net tomorrow? Both goalies played about half the game tonight…

Ice Sage

I’d like to see LB start tomorrow.

SayItAin'tSo, Gretz, SayItAin'tSo!

Pescador,

Shitty stretch for about 12 minutes of the 2nd, a bunch of penalties and the flood gates open.

Talbot had a rough game after posting back to back shutouts.

Sometimes these games happen. Watch the tape, note the misreads, Gryba will be out for Benning and there’s a chance to get right back In the right direction in 20 hours.

No need to panic

Dicky94

We will be tied with Anaheim again tomorrow. McDavid will be pissed.

Pescador

Letestu 15 goals, 10 PP, 2 SH.
I’m ok with this

delooper

That last rush by McDavid was magical. You don’t get to see players uncork that much speed very often.

delooper

Not the Oilers A game, but the Ducks played quite well.

Ice Sage

godot10:
That was a pretty shoddily designed 6-on-3 at the beginning of the PP by #BoyWonderCroft.6-on-3, and nobody in Bernier’s grill.

To be fair, it’s a pretty rare scenario, enough to even be a bit unsettling for the offence…’I have too many options!’

JD_Wry

Shirley Rindfliesch is the real winner here.

treevojo

Sweet

godot10

That was a pretty shoddily designed 6-on-3 at the beginning of the PP by #BoyWonderCroft. 6-on-3, and nobody in Bernier’s grill.

Pescador

Tonight was a shitty reality check, The Oilers are a 1 line team offensively & cam Talbot. Not enough to win a playoff series IMO. Especially against the Ducks. Need so much more from Eberle & RNH, but I don’t think they have it in them this season, last time I checked it gets tougher to score in the playoffs not easier. I realize I should be just happy we are making it, but it can’t always be the same guys that make a fist. Can it?

Ice Sage

Crazy Pedestrian:
Well, at least McDavid got a three point night!

Maybe. Carlyle is a dick

Crazy Pedestrian

Well, at least McDavid got a three point night!

treevojo

Offside

delooper

Nice.

JD_Wry

Let’s test you.

treevojo

Nice

russ99

Jesus. 6 on 3 and we’re standing around and going back to the point.

Scungilli Slushy

delooper:
Eberle struggles against these physical teams.

And playing a full season of intense hockey. 10 games has been about his max commitment to two way play, it’s hard man.

BONE207

On the bright side. ..the ladies behind the Anaheim net are really good looking

Ice Sage

Well there’s something – a 6 on 3?
That should even things up but too late!!!

JD_Wry

russ99: but pretty odd we can take it to the Bruins and Kings and yet wilt against Anaheim.

Kings aren’t the old Kings, Bruins were tired, and the Ducks are rested and at home. So, no.